|Senzo Meyiwa is gone. Shot dead by a coward on Sunday night.|
- SENZO MEYIWA is dead. There is no gentle way to say that.
According to police, he was shot from behind while trying to protect Kelly Khumalo, the mother of his child, at her Vosloorus home at around 8pm on Sunday night.Hit in the chest, he was dead on arrival at Botshelong Hospital.Those stark facts have cast a terrible shadow over South Africa, a nation already infamous for horrendous murder rates and rampant crime.The football world remains in shock. Dean Furman in England, Darren Keet in Belgium and all the Bafana Bafana players were reeling as the news broke. Devastated was the common word.Captain, my captain. The man who saved two penalties at a blacked-out TP Mazembe, the goalkeeper who grabbed Itumeleng Khune's armband for Shakes Mashaba. Gone.Unbeaten in his four AFCON qualifiers since Khune's injury, Senzo will never concede another goal.
Shakes was at the hospital on Sunday night, desperately consoling hardened professional footballers trying to come to terms with the bleakest of news.He was 27. At the peak of his powers. On Saturday he was out there in the Orlando downpour with water up to his ankles. His farewell game? A crucial 4-1 win over Ajax Cape Town, coached by Roger de Sa, the man who gave him the Orlando Pirates No1 jersey which he rarely relinquished.It's the sudden nature of his departure, the utter shock which will not allow us to shrug off this particular crime statistic in a nation accustomed to horror.On the social networks, the South African police immediately offered a R150,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the three-man gang who perpetrated the act.Bring back the death penalty, roared the tweeting nation. The cowardly thug who shot Senzo in the back will not get away with culpable homicide and a short sentence.We can be sure of that.As for the Soweto Derby on Saturday, it no longer matters. Perhaps 90,000 at Soccer City will turn South Africa's biggest game in to a memorial to the Pirates No 1.Perhaps it should be postponed. Few can think football after such a tragedy. Let alone play 90 minutes.There is no consolation. But I have this picture of Meyiwa turning up at the Pearly Gates on Sunday night.In my mind, he's got his gloves on. He looks St Peter squarely in the eyes after stopping his final shot on this mortal coil.And he says simply: "We will never let them win. Never."Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!